Mother of controversies: Mayawati, Maneka trade charges (Second Lead)

April 4th, 2009 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Lucknow, April 4 (IANS) Call it the mother of all controversies ahead of the poll. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Maneka Gandhi, whose son Varun has been detained for his purported hate-Muslim speeches, traded charges Saturday with both making references to Mother Teresa to buttress their arguments.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) chief Mayawati criticised Maneka Gandhi for her remarks that only a mother could understand her feelings.

Terming these remarks “insinuating”, Mayawati, who is single, said: “Let me tell Maneka Gandhi that even Mother Teresa did not have children but understood the feelings of millions of children.

“Rather than teaching her son some manners and telling him how to behave, she is going about defending him, which is condemnable.”

Mayawati demanded that Maneka Gandhi should seek pardon from her and the entire country for the remarks.

Varun Gandhi, named by the BJP as candidate in the Lok Sabha polls from the Pilibhit constituency represented five times by his mother, is in judicial custody at Etah, charged under the National Security Act for hate-Muslim speeches that he purportedly made.

Maneka Gandhi, a former central minister, launched a scathing attack on Mayawati after the chief minister’s press conference.

“Mother Teresa didn’t use law to buy herself diamond and jewellery and house. Mother Teresa tendered love, not death to everyone. Mother Teresa never sent anyone to jail without any reason.

“Mother Teresa never got anyone killed on her birthday,” Maneka Gandhi said. She was alluding to the Dec 24 murder of engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta allegedly by BSP legislator Shekhar Tiwari after the victim did not give in to his extortion demands.

“Mother Teresa never fired (gunshots) upon anyone. Mother Teresa never took bribes. So she should not speak on manners,” Maneka Gandhi said.

Citing rules of the jail administration, authorities had Friday asked Maneka Gandhi to not meet her son in Etah jail. Maneka Gandhi had then said if Mayawati had been a mother, she would have understand a mother’s pain.

“I want to say that Maneka is mother of one (Varun), while I take care of hundreds and understand the pain of crores of mothers,” Mayawati said.

Defending her decision to slap the stringent National Security Act (NSA) on Varun Gandhi, Mayawati said the action was “fully justified”.

“I am fully justified in taking the most stern action against him because what he did was not pardonable, and anyone indulging in such acts, no matter how high and mighty, would receive the same treatment in my regime and will not be spared under any circumstances,” the chief minister said.

Although, the Congress party has distanced itself from the controversy, its senior cabinet minister Arjun Singh said “it was unfortunate” that Varun Gandhi had been booked under NSA.

Fellow cabinet minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said: “When both of them are talking to each other, it is not appropriate for a third party to intervene.”

BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley demanded that the Uttar Pradesh government revoke the “vindictive” charges under the NSA slapped on Varun Gandhi.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s state headquarters here, Jaitley said: “The steps taken by Mayawati against Varun Gandhi are disproportionate and vindictive.

“If she doesn’t back track, she will have to pay a heavy political price,” he warned.

Jaitley accused the Uttar Pradesh government of wanting to keep Varun Gandhi away from campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.

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